AVON PARK - Lacey Hills residents and property owners sought answers at Monday's city council meeting about the ramifications their subdivision would face if it was annexed into the city.
The city council, by unanimous vote, approved the first reading of an ordinance that would put the annexation issue up for a vote by Lacey Hills residents on Sept. 17.
A public hearing on the issue was held prior to the council's vote.
Sam Collins said he was not against being annexed into the city, but he was concerned that many of the citizens in the area are poor and it would be an expense for them to be hooked up to the city sewer system.
Is there any help that the citizens could get in that area, he asked.
City Manager Julian Deleon said he believes there is an ordinance that requires the connection, but there might be some flexibility since the residences are "existing" homes. That is something that could be looked at.
City Attorney Gerald Buhr said there is a mandatory connection policy, however it requires a 365-day notice and cities have given extensions for circumstances such as hardship cases.
Buhr noted, and Deleon concurred, that not all areas of Lacey Hills currently have sanitary sewer service available.
South Side Community Redevelopment Agency Chairman Gerald Snell said facade grants and other CRA benefits would be available to Lacey Hills property owners if it was annexed and brought into the Southside CRA district.
"A lot of citizens have voiced that they are willing and would like to be part of the city," he said.
After the council meeting, City Services Director Maria Sutherland explained to residents and property owners how the CRA could help the Lacey Hills subdivision.
Patrick Phillips said he wanted to get more information about how the residences would be hooked up to the city's sewer system and get a better understanding about who is benefiting from annexation.
He also got information about the possibility of the CRA helping to remodel the houses, Phillips said.
"It sounds pretty good to me," he said.
Lacey Hills property owner Paulette Daley said she attended the council meeting to hear any concerns or comments about the proposed annexation.
The area considered for annexation is located south of Earnest E. Sims Street, north of Garrett Road, east of South Lake Avenue and west of Cummings Avenue. The approximately 43 acres has 161 parcels of land, including 92 improved properties.
The proposed ordinance notes that voter registration books will remain open until Aug. 19.
Only the registered voters who live in the Lacey Hills subdivision would be eligible to vote on the annexation referendum.
A second public hearing on the referendum ordinance is scheduled for Aug. 12.